10-man Bluebirds battle to point against Tranmere.
Barrow AFC 1-1 Tranmere Rovers Attendance: 1,131
Michael Jolley’s first game in the Holker Street dugout ended with the spoils shared as his new side fought back from a goal down to draw with Tranmere Rovers.
The sole change from Saturday’s win at Port Vale saw Barrow skipper Lewis Hardcastle make his first appearance after sustaining an injury in October, replacing Chris Taylor, who missed out through family commitments.
The Bluebirds got off to a strong start, threatening the Rovers goal on a couple of occasions in the opening stages.
Scott Quigley was a thorn in the side of the Wirral club and only a fine save from Scott Davies stopped him from putting the hosts ahead, getting down well to prevent a fierce strike arrowing into the bottom corner.
If that save was good, the one from Joel Dixon shortly after was simply incredible. Tranmere’s in-form striker, James Vaughan, smashed a shot from point-blank range only to be denied by the Barrow stopper, somehow turning the ball over the bar.
Vaughan, however, was beginning to find time and space in the Barrow area on a regular basis and eventually got the goal he was after, heading in Liam Feeney’s cross for his 13th of the season halfway through the first half.
The visitors continued to look threatening, but Hardcastle came close to levelling the scores when his free-kick flashed into the side netting, before Quigley called Davies into action just before the break.
Barrow started the second half in positive fashion and created chances for Luke James and Harrison Biggins, both of whom saw their efforts go the wrong side of the post.
The Bluebirds’ persistence was eventually rewarded in the 65 minute, when Quigley showed good footwork to wriggle his way free inside the Rovers penalty area, only to be felled by Sid Nelson, giving the referee no choice but to point to the spot.
Barrow’s top scorer from last season made no mistake from the spot, as Quigley dusted himself down and slotted in to make it four goals in his last four games.
Jolley’s side looked to take advantage of their newfound momentum to press for a winner, but we’re stopped on their tracks just minutes after the equaliser.
Already on a caution, Biggins clashed with Vaughan on the touchline, resulting in the referee showing both players a yellow card and, consequently, giving the Barrow man his marching orders.
Tranmere looked to make the most of their numerical advantage but were again thwarted by another great save by Dixon.
It was Barrow, though, who could have snatched the points late on, when a diving save from Davies stopped Hardcastle from marking his return in style, clawing away his rasping strike to ensure the points were shared.
Barrow AFC (3-5-2): Dixon; Hird, Platt, Brough; Brown, Beadling, Hardcastle, Biggins, Kay (J.Jones 90); James (J.Taylor 70), Quigley (Angus 90). Subs not used: Lillis, Wilson, Reid.
Tranmere Rovers (4-1-2-1-2): Davies; MacDonald, Nelson, Clarke, Ridehalgh; Spearing, Lewis, Morris (Banks 90), Feeney; Ferrier (Woolery 76), Vaughan. Subs not used: Murphy, Blackett-Taylor, O’Connor, Lloyd, Smith.